DIY Organic Lawn Care
Find out more about DIY organic lawn care services and tips for getting started right here. We’ll take the guesswork and endless research out of the process, and simply provide you with our time-tested approach and the best organic products. Kick harmful chemicals to the curb and get your lawn looking and feeling great!
For a FREE lawn assessment please contact us.
Part of our mission at Organic Bob is to educate people about organic lawn care. We believe it’s best for not only the plants and water quality in our communities, but also best for the health and well being of our families, pets, and treasured wildlife.
Thinking about organic lawn care takes a bit of a mind shift—we look at “perfect” lawns with envy, but nature loves diversity. You can have a beautiful lush lawn that still has weeds here and there. Our approach is to build the soil health and, over time, crowd out most of the weeds by growing healthy low-maintenance grass. To reduce the cost of maintaining a lawn (and dealing with troublesome, weed prone areas) consider planting a low-maintenance prairie garden, or other lawn alternatives.
Organic Bob’s DIY Service
You do most of the labor, we provide the product.
The DIY service includes:
- Free in-person lawn assessment: personalized recommendations, simple trouble-shooting, and maintenance tips
- Products for our tried and true organic lawn care programs: we will deliver the products to your home when it’s the best time to apply them
When would DIY be a good option for me?
- If you have a large yard and are thrifty
- You love physical labor 🙂
- You can devote quite a bit of time to getting your lawn into shape
Organic Bob’s Products
- Compost certified for organic growers
Quality compost applied liberally and consistently will improve your soil quality and lawn.
- Grass seed for over-seeding
Our custom blend of fescue seed (does not contain cheap filler seed like most blends found in the store) is easy to grow, low maintenance and perfect for MN climate. Not available in retail stores.
- Certified Organic fertilizer
Our custom phosphorus-free blend consists of feather meal, humates, SOP (potassium), and gypsum. Not available in retail stores.
- Mycorrhizal Fungi certified for use by organic growers
Water soluble beneficial microbes for planting and transplanting, a supplement that aids nutrient uptake and builds root systems.
- Optional Fiesta herbicide
A low toxicity selective herbicide with the active ingredient of chelated iron, is safe for aquatic invertebrates. It is best used to bring severe perennial broadleaf weed conditions under control, while building healthy soil, the best solution to weeds.
- Aerobic Compost Tea applied by Organic Bob’s trained staff
We brew our own aerobic compost tea in small batches, and take random samples and look at them under a microscope to make sure microbes are active and beneficial. At Organic Bob, Compost Tea is always “Full Service” because getting it right requires training, timing and equipment including a microscope. This product is an essential part of revitalizing and feeding your lawn organically. If you want to DIY, find out all about it here: soilfoodweb.com
Frequently Asked Questions
To find out the cost of Full Service or DIY Service, contact us for a free lawn assessment.
We’ll do the calculation for you when you set up a free lawn assessment. The most accurate way is to use a tape measure and measure the length and width of your lawn. Or walk the perimeter, stepping one foot directly in front of the other to find the length/width. The average shoe equals about 1 foot. Multiply the length by the width to get the number of square feet.
The general rules of thumb:
Over-seeding an existing lawn: 3lbs seed per 1,000 sq ft
Compost: For maintenance: 4 thirty pound bags of compost per 1,000 sq ft ( 120 pounds )
For our start-up program: 12 thirty pound bags of compost per 1,000 sq ft ( 360 pounds )
Fertilizer: 16 pounds per 1,000 sq ft
Low-toxicity Fiesta herbicide: follow directions on the label. Spray weed foliage to point of runoff.
As you may have already discovered, organic lawn care products aren’t cheap. Even basic seed for over-seeding the whole lawn can add up. We have spent years refining our product offerings, we offer great quality organic products that we have personally vetted and love. You can probably do it cheaper, but it would be hard to do it better. We’ll take the guesswork and endless research out of the process, and simply provide you with the best organic product for a reasonable price.
Contact us to set up a free lawn assessment. We will recommend a program to improve your lawn, and talk through pricing and options. We deliver the product to your home when it’s the right time to apply it.
Organic Bob will send you an email 7 to 10 days in advance of each delivery telling you exactly what you need to do before and after applying your materials.
At your lawn assessment you will find out the best time to apply each of the recommended products.
Yes, you can order just the product that you want. Please note our DIY programs are holistic and designed to get your lawn healthy as quickly as possible.These products are designed to create a synergy: they work better together than separately. Results will vary when removing elements of the program. We understand lawn care costs can be higher than expected even when doing it yourself, and we want to help you reach your goals however we can.
Cold soil temperatures, dry soil, and bad seed can all affect germination. In the spring it can take 2 -3 weeks for seed to germinate. In the warmer fall conditions, seed should germinate in 7 – 10 days. Be patient, but call if you have concerns.
Mow as you normally would; when grass is 4” tall, cut to a height of 3”, without bagging. Avoid piles of clippings on the lawn as this will smother seedlings.
Use of any herbicide, even low toxicity varieties, should be used as a last resort. If you have a heavy infestation of broadleaf weeds, you can start with herbicide treatments. Repeated use of herbicide in the same areas, year after year, indicates that the area is not a good location for turf. It may be too shady, hot, dry or other condition that favors weeds. Try planting a more appropriate garden. Check out Lawn Alternatives on our Services page.
No one has enough time or energy for weeding. You can hire it out or plant an alternative turf or landscaping to achieve the desired level of maintenance.
The U of M soil test is valuable, but measures only the chemical components of soil, not the biological content. The basis for our approach is healthy soil equals healthy grass. The U of M soil test does not provide this information.
Our programs have been developed over 30 years of research, trial and error. Each product and procedure is an important part of an holistic system. If you skip the aerobic compost tea, it will take longer to achieve a healthy lawn and it will not be as resilient when subjected to harsh weather and other stressors.
Follow the emailed instructions that came with the delivery notice. Water appropriately, keeping seedlings moist and soil deeply watered with 1” per week. Mow to 3” high when grass reaches 4”. Follow the program laid out during your free lawn assessment.
You can do a dormant seeding, when the trees have lost their leaves, by following the normal seeding directions. This seed will lie dormant until the soil warms up in spring. Be sure to water the new seedlings in the spring so they don’t dry out. Find out more on this blog post.
Most years, Sept. 20 is a good cutoff date. That way the seedlings will establish root systems that will allow them to survive the cold. Weather fluctuations will impact this timeline, so to be safe, finish seeding as early as you can.
We can help you troubleshoot and get your lawn looking great. But keep in mind that it can take up to three years for your lawn to get turned around using an organic program. It’s important that you follow the program completely during that time.
- Weeding is key – total weed eradication is not realistic. Aim to spend 15 minutes a week weeding, this helps control the spread of weeds.
Weeds 101: Start in the same part of your lawn each week, and re-weed the old area before you move into new areas of the lawn (the exception is if weeds are flowering – in that case, you will want to remove them before they go to seed). That way you wear out the weeds instead of the weeder!
- Watering is key – at least 1 inch per week, best if all at once. You can use the Organic Bob rain gauge that you get with your free lawn assessment. Set your rain gauge somewhere it won’t get kicked over, and check it once a week. If it’s not at the 1” mark yet, water until it is. Then empty it and you are ready to measure the rain over the next week. Most watering systems take about 2 hours to put down an inch of water on your lawn, but check your own system to make sure.
- Adjust your mower: mow to 3” when your grass reaches 4” or more. Leave the clippings on the lawn. For your final mow before winter, lower the blade to 2.5” and bag the clippings.
- Adjust your expectations: It takes time to see significant improvement (2+ years). In the first year you should see the grass improve, but the weeds may actually get worse. In the second year, you’ll start to see the grass outcompeting the weeds. By the third year, you should have a lush, healthy lawn with a few weeds here and there.
Some of these products are available at select garden centers in the metro, also check our products page for links to purchase online.
- Organic Compost for top dressing – we deliver!
- Organic Bob’s Organic Fertilizer – we deliver!
- Organic Bob’s Grass Seed Blend – we deliver!
- EZ straw for over-seeding bare areas – we deliver!
- St. Gabriels Milky Spore Disease – kills Japanese beetle grubs (see our products page)
- Beneficial Nematodes – kills wide variety of grubs (see our products page)
- Fiesta – low toxicity broadleaf herbicide (see our products page)
- Phydura – non selective herbicide (see our product page)
Visit our products page for links to these and other tools we use and recommend.
- Orbit programmable timer for watering
- Quality garden sprayer
- Small shovel for aerating
- Dandelion weeder (hand held and standing)
- Fiskars lawn mower
- Seed spreader
Contact us to set up a free lawn assessment and we will recommend a specific program based on your unique yard.
Prepare the Area
The goal is to provide as much soil contact for new seeds.
- Clear the area of leaf piles, branches, pet residue and other debris that may impede your ability to apply the materials.
- Removing as many weeds as you can by hand, or with non-selective weed killer (like Phydurra which is all natural, find it on our products page) or by shovel by skimming off the top layer of weeds and roots.
- As you weed, fill in the holes you make with dirt
- Rake with a metal rake to remove dead grass and built up thatch. If you have a layer of thatch that is very thick, consider renting a de-thatching machine from a hardware or garden store. Then rake up the leftover thatch.
- Mow as short as you can before you apply the compost
Top Dressing with Compost
Take a look at the compost how-to video under the Resources pages.
What we do is lay out the bags of compost in groups of 4 to 8 bags, as evenly across your lawn as you can. This helps you pace yourself when spreading the compost so you don’t run out before you cover the entire lawn. Then empty a few bags into a wheelbarrow, and use the method shown in the video. If you do leave clumps in the lawn, rake it out even using a leaf rake. The better you get at flicking it, the less raking you’ll need to do. Be sure to water deeply after top-dressing so it doesn’t wash away.
Watch the fertilizer how-to video (coming soon).
Watch the over-seeding how-to video under the Resources pages. If you are seeding large bare areas, you may want to lay down EZ straw after seeding to help keep the seed from washing or blowing away.
After over-seeding, you will need to keep the soil moist (water 15 minutes 1x/ day, 2x/ day if temps are in 80s or above).
Recommended watering schedule:
1st week – 15 mins daily
2nd week – 15 mins every other day
3rd week – 15 mins every third day
The lawn should still get an inch per week through all this moistening. Be careful not to do an inch all at once in 1st week or the seed may wash away. Once it has germinated, you can water more aggressively. The grass seed should germinate in 10 to 20 days depending on temperatures.
Aerobic Compost Tea
Let Organic Bob treat you to Full Service applications!
Lawn Care Calendar
|Mid April-mid May||Over-seed, fertilize, top dress with compost|
|Late May||Aerobic Compost Tea|
|Early June||Aerobic Compost Tea|
|Mid August – Mid September||Over-seed, fertilize, top dress with compost|
|Late September||Aerobic Compost Tea|
|Early October||Aerobic Compost Tea|
It’s smooth sailing from here, we just need to keep up with the basic lawn care habits, like weeding 15 minutes a week, and making sure there’s been an inch of water each week (combined rain and watering).
If you have a question, post it in the comments below. You can also head over to our Facebook page for more seasonal tips and tricks.
If you have ideas for lawn care topics you’d like to learn more about, we’d love to hear from you. Please send ideas and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.